The Intellectual Movement in the Days of Charlemagne

Katherine A Reilly, Fordham University


It is certain that before the accession of Charlemagne, the Gallican schools had fallen into general decay. The decline was progressive, but it ended in something like total extinction. At the end of the fourth century according to M. Guizot, profane and sacred literature flourished side by side, pagan letters were indeed dying, but they were not entirely dead. They soon, however, disappeared, and sacred literature alone was cultivated. But if we go a little further, we find that the cultivation of Christian literature had itself vanished; the decay had, in fact, become universal."It is due to the Church alone that learning beaten down by the tempest that raged around, took refuge under the seller of the altar, till happier times should suffer it to reappear in the world".The dawn of a better state of things began to show itself under the rule of Pepin. That monarch appears to have contemplated something of the same plan of reform afterwards carried out by the vaster genius of his son. His first step was to renew those close relations with the Holy See, the interruption of which had so largely contributed to disorganize the Church of France. In 747, being then mayor of the palace, he despatcher an embassy to Pope Zachary, imploring his assistance and advice in the reformation of the episcopal order. The subsequent change of dynasty was affected by the will, it is true, of the Frankish people, but not until it had received the sanction of the Pope, who decided that he who held the power of the king should likewise assume the royal title. This appeal of the Frakka to the authority of the Holy See in the election of their sovereign is a fact of immense political importance, and from that hour the tide of barbarism began to ebb.

Subject Area

Social structure|Social work

Recommended Citation

Reilly, Katherine A, "The Intellectual Movement in the Days of Charlemagne" (1921). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI31189896.